Return with me to 2010, more or less the year it first fully hit that my life path had doubled back, taking me to one-on-one social enrichment work with olders elders ancients.
John & I discovered that the active, engaged, fun lives our mothers had experienced weren’t the norm for too many olders. Mom M. was fully independent, except for the help John gave with heavy shopping, right up to her sudden death, at home, at 87. My mother had her final fall hours before she was to throw a brunch down in Virginia for metro-D.C. based friends & family; five weeks later, as she was being discharged from a suburban-Philadelphia hospital for home & hospice, her doctor begged me to take one of the other patients, to leave Mom – “I know that if I’m feeling down, a visit to your mother’s room will leave me smiling.” Oh, and she spent that last week answering e-mails from a local college’s Psych 101 students.
That was 09/2001. Over the next 15+ years, John & I slowly discovered – to our great surprise – a gift for helping people be as fully themselves, whatever their situation or circumstance. The challenge was finding information on helping olders connect to their creative cores. There was LOTS of info on day-to-day functions, on diseases & cognitive impairments, on PROBLEMS associated with aging up through our 70s 80s 90s, but ZILCH on ways to support people without age-related conditions to STAY that way.
Determined to learn more, I looked to child-focused research, articles, book, because they sort of seemed somewhat close to what we sought. And I was right! Lots of material on engaging, connecting & growing relationship that related to both youngsters & oldies but goodies.
Over the years between our awakening & today’s relative bonanza of books (think This Chair Rocks, Disrupt Aging & Ending Ageism, or how not to shoot old people), I read countless unrelated books that somehow related directly to our goal of assuring older friends that they’re built to keep engaged energized empowered to their precious last breath, that they’ve sold themselves down the river with the myth that life after a certain age is destined by The Fates to be, at best, chronically tinged with soft lens depression. The energies that lead me to them would lead me to The National Center for Creative Aging, to George Mason University’s Leading to Well-Being Conferences, to Positive Aging, to the IAGG World Congress – – to myself & my full calling.
Business books were surprisingly helpful. A lot about nurturing – in spite of perceived barriers – teams hit home. I remember listening to some guy named Chip Conley give a TED Talk on a business model he’d developed using Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Having taught Maslow for five years to at-risk high school students – – who gave “needs” a whole new meaning to me – – it caught my eye & fired my imagination.
Some six years after hearing that TED Talk, am set a-shiver with chills & thrills – with thanks to Kari Henley – to hear that the very same Chip Conley is bringing karmic capitalism to sharp & savvy eldering in the guise of the Modern Elder.
Circle SEPTEMBER 18 on the calendar of everyone even remotely interested in living as vibrantly expansively wondrously as possible – – the date Wisdom@Work is being released!
From 2010 to 2018 – – how far attitudes about growing “O-L-D” have come, from “seniors” to seriously AWEsome.
Would say “Let the wonders begin!” – – but they already have!
From zilch to ZOWIE – and John & I are right there, immersed in a movement no longer on the cusp but moving full throttle to fabulous.